Housing providing better lives for city youth

A new brokerage fund to pay rental bonds on apartments and other costs holding young people back from accessing housing has helped improve hundreds of lives in the past year.

The $200,000 provided by The City of Sydney has allowed Launchpad Youth Community to provide swift housing support for young people – many of them teenaged parents – and help them maintain their tenancies.

Launchpad and its partners provided services to 428 young people either sleeping rough or at risk of homelessness between September 2014 and July last year.

New mum Cecileigh Patten, 18, is one of 34 Aboriginal mothers to find a home thanks to around 30 affiliated services that have benefited from brokerage support.

The trainee dental assistant bought furniture and electrical appliances with money from the fund after moving into an affordable housing block with support from Launchpad partner Weave Youth Community group.

“I can’t thank WEAVE enough and especially my Caseworker Melissa,” Ms Patten said. “Without the support I don’t know what I would have done. Melissa was able to assist me with a lot of stuff and I found the program to be very successful.”

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the City was committed to helping people experiencing homelessness by providing direct support and promoting the supply of affordable housing, which typically sees rents capped at 30 per cent of household incomes.

“We’re proud to help Launchpad and its partners achieve this great result by providing funding,” the Lord Mayor said.

“It shows that practical, agile financial help, whether it be for a rental bond, white goods or even a bus fare, goes a long way to getting people off the streets and back home to their families or into new accommodation.

“The City has a dedicated homelessness unit and promotes the supply of affordable housing through discounted land sales and planning deals that offer incentives to developers to build more homes for key workers.”

Around 150 people received a total of $87,000 in brokerage assistance distributed among 22 agencies between September 2014 and July.

Sixteen brokerage recipients put the money towards baby needs, 18 bought food and 12 used it for education.

The fund covered four rental bonds and helped 70 people set up homes.

As well as the brokerage fund, Launchpad’s recent success lies in networks formed with 30 support agencies that can all draw from the brokerage fund in exchange for cooperative case management.

“The brokerage is a pool of funds used to purchase goods and services not currently available through services,” Launchpad Youth Community Executive Officer Cindi Petersen said.

“It’s quick to administer and can pay for a range of things to help people get back to areas they came from, or for the costs of vocational and educational training.”

Launchpad Youth Community coordinates the Sydney Young Parents Program in partnership with YWCA NSW and The Good Shepherd and partners with the Weave and Ted Noffs Foundation to deliver the Sydney Youth Homelessness Hub, a program for young people experiencing homelessness or at risk of it.

The City of Sydney is investing $4.2 million over three years through Family and Community Services NSW for Launchpad’s work and other services. These include $1.8 million to Neami to help rough sleepers into safe and secure accommodation, and another $1.8 million to help 30 rough sleepers into social housing in the inner city and surrounding suburbs.

The City is the only council in NSW with a dedicated homelessness unit. Set up in 1984 in response to the large numbers of homeless people attracted to the inner city support services, it aims to reduce homelessness and its impact on the city.

Three public space liaison officers work with rough sleepers daily to balance their needs with the need to maintain the amenity of public space. Staff know individuals personally and help them access housing, Medicare and Centrelink and other support.